Hey, folks, and welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s newsletter covering the past week (or more) of tech industry events. This week marked OpenAI’s first ever dev conference, where the Microsoft-backed AI startup announced several new products. But that is far from the only thing on record.
In this edition of WiR, we highlight Brian’s review of the 16-inch M3 Max MacBook Air and M3 iMac 24-inch; Mozilla’s bet on a decentralized social networking future; Ford shuts down a company that built an app for plumbers, electricians and other trades; and Tim Cook’s thoughts on generative AI. Also on the agenda is WeWork officially filing for bankruptcy, Bumble getting a new CEO, and the spectacular failure of EV startup Arrival.
It’s a lot to get through, as always — so we won’t be late. But first, a reminder to sign up here to receive WiR in your inbox every Saturday if you haven’t already.
OpenAI spends a dev day: OpenAI hosted its first ever developer conference on Monday, and the company had a lot to talk about. Some of the more notable things announced were tools to create custom “GPTs” (ie, domain-specific chatbots), new text-to-speech models, an API for text- to-image model DALL-E 3, and an improved version of OpenAI’s flagship model, GPT-4, called GPT-4 Turbo.
Mac attack: Brian reviews Apple’s new 16-inch M3 Max MacBook Pro and the 24-inch M3 iMac. He sees the iMac as lacking and not necessarily worth upgrading from the 2021 model, except for the M3 chip, which brings “exciting” performance gains to the already powerful M1. As for the M3 Max MacBook Pro, Brian reports that, at $2,500 (plus some expensive add-ons), it successfully splits the difference between the Mac Studio and MacBook Air.
Mozilla is betting on a decentralized future: Sarah spoke with Mozilla’s senior director of content Carolyn O’Hara, who outlined Mozilla’s strategy as it relates to the “fediverse” – a collection of decentralized social networking applications, such as Mastodon, that talk each other through the ActivityPub protocol. The idea, says O’Hara, is to rethink social networking from the ground up.
Ford shuts down SaaS app for field work: Ford has shut down VIIZR, a software-as-a-service company that, with Salesforce, built an app to help tradespeople like plumbers, locksmiths and electricians schedule field appointments, send invoices and manage customers, Kirsten reports. VIIZR, announced in December 2021, is a separate company majority-owned by Ford, with Salesforce as a minority investor.
Apple is betting on generative AI: Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed back against the idea that the company is behind AI in Apple’s Q4 earnings call with investors, as he highlighted the technological advances Apple has made recently. which “would not be possible without AI.” Cook also said that Apple is working on generative AI technologies, lending confidence to reports suggesting that the company is on track to spend $1 billion annually developing generative AI products.
WeWork broke: As predicted, flexible office-space firm WeWork has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing more than $18.6 billion in debt in a rare collapse for the once high-flying startup founded by Adam Neumann and is bankrolled by SoftBank, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs.
Slack’s loss, Bumble’s win: Dating app Bumble announced a doozy this week: It’s replacing founder CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd with Slack CEO Lidiane Jones. Jones only started as CEO of Slack last year, stepping in for another founding CEO, Stewart Butterfield. Ron and Sarah wrote that — while Bumble now has a clear line of succession — the move leaves Slack in a bit of a pickle.
Arrival failed to deliver: The arrival was set eight years ago to make electric vehicles “more efficient.” Until now, its plan to abandon the gigafactory for local microfactories has proven anything but, writes Harri – thanks to missed production targets, low cash reserves, layoffs and a pivot.
It’s winter, it’s not getting any warmer (at least here in NYC), and I’d argue there’s no better place than snuggling up indoors with a podcast for company. If you need material, TechCrunch has some that should be on your radar.
This week Equity, the crew delve into encouraging signs from the fintech startup market, starting with Klarna’s Q3 results. From there, they look at buy now, pay later consumer behavior and fintech fundraising results with a 2021 flavor.
Meanwhile, FOUND Nasrat Khalid is featured in Aseel, which started as an e-commerce company that made it possible for local artisans in Afghanistan to sell to customers around the world. It has progressed to humanitarian aid work, delivering emergency food supplies to people in need in Afghanistan and Turkey.
TC+ subscribers have access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you already know if you’re a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are some highlights from this week:
Another superconductor disappointment: Tim writes that a new, supposedly room-temperature superconducting material is not what the scientific community had hoped for. With the paper published in Nature detailing the material facing recovery, the possibilities of researchers discovering a superconductor at room temperature are looking even better.
Klarna inches towards an IPO: Mary Ann and Alex write that Swedish fintech Klarna is taking steps towards an IPO. The company has begun a process for a legal entity change to establish a UK holding company as an important early step in its plans for an initial public offering, a a Klarna spokesperson told TechCrunch +.
The unicorn’s legacy is far from over: It’s been 10 years since Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee coined an incredibly catchy nickname for the rare startups of the time: Unicorns. TechCrunch+ spoke to Lee about his feelings about the term 10 years later, now that his venture firm is another decade old.